Ivanka Trump, often credited for managing both her father’s campaign and his image, has in recent days been widely mocked and criticized after a recent blog on her fashion company’s web site and social media postings reveal that her company relies in part on unpaid interns.
The reliance on unpaid labor is in stark contrast to the Trump campaign's effort to appeal to working class and everyday Americans. Donald Trump’s daughter is credited as both an outsized and moderating influence on her father’s presidential quest. Her star shined brighter after giving a well-received speech last month at the Republican National Convention about women's equality. Next spring her book about working women and work-life balance will be published.
But as with the case for the Trump’s proposed child care policy – which appeared to be highly influenced by Ivanka – the use of volunteer interns at her company adds to the narrative that the younger Trump's advocacy of “working women” only applies to women who are upper-income and well-connected.
The blog post, “How to Survive as an Unpaid Intern,” written almost a month ago, came to light last week when Ms. Trump, or more likely someone tweeting for her, posted a link. The long dribble of advice, written by an unpaid intern, discusses the challenges of working for free in New York City. The obvious solutions will elicit many an eye roll: save up during the academic year, work a part-time job to gain some extra cash, set a budget, do not splurge when socializing and ask if any expenses are reimbursable. Reading between the lines, however, offered the most obvious solution: be supported by one’s parents.
The problem with Ivanka’s intern's advice is that for most recent grads, an unpaid internship is is simply untenable. It's also likely illegal, unless these interns happen to be receiving academic credit. Then add the vicious cycle of employers expecting new post-university hires to have internship experience: a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers survey revealed a 20 percent gap in hiring rates between those students who had an internship and those who did not. Those with a paid internships had an even higher offer rate, and higher salaries, when compared to students who worked without any financial compensation.
This system has led some commentators to suggest that the internship system today allows a privileged few graduates to advance in their careers while many struggle to find gainful employment after graduation. Last month, Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation urged corporate America to take action in order to make internships far more accessible to all.
Considering the odd timing of this post, part of a series that covers everything from surviving in New York City to “maximizing” the experience, one Salon writer surmised that the sunshiny posts were actually an underhanded act of sabotage against the Trump brand. And one observer could not get past the odd wallpaper that marked the beginning of the post:
Image credit: IvankaTrump.com
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked and lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.